Attention, 2017 juniors! Do you know when you’ll be taking the PSAT? Do you know the best way to prepare for the test?
This guide is for anyone planning to take the PSAT in the fall of 2017. We have the predicted PSAT test dates, along with some key study tips. To start, let’s discuss what you need to know about how your school will administer the PSAT.
How Will Your High School Administer the PSAT?
Unlike the SAT or ACT, you don’t get to choose when you take the PSAT. Instead, your school administers the PSAT on one date in the fall. All juniors automatically take the PSAT, while younger students can request to take it if they want the experience.
College Board gives schools three options for PSAT test dates, a primary test date, an alternate test date, and a Saturday test date. The majority of schools choose the primary test date, which falls on a Wednesday. Your school will only administer the PSAT on its one selected test date.
College Board hasn’t released the exact 2017 PSAT test dates yet, but we can predict the dates based on previous years. Read on for the predicted PSAT test dates in 2017.
With the PSAT, you don't get to choose your test date.
What Are the 2017 PSAT Test Dates?
Every year the primary PSAT test date falls on a Wednesday in mid-October. The alternate test date will be offered two weeks later, while the Saturday test date will fall within a few days of the primary test date.
Here are the official PSAT test dates 2017:
- Primary date: Wednesday, October 11
- Alternate Date: Wednesday, October 25
- Saturday Date: Saturday, October 14
Since your school only administers the PSAT once, you should try your hardest to be there. Of course, you can’t help it if you come down with the flu or have a family emergency. If you miss your PSAT test date for whatever reason, can you still take the test?
When the days start to cool and the leaves change color, PSAT season is upon you.
What If You Miss the 2017 PSAT Test Date?
Even though your school only administers the PSAT once, it is possible to retake the test if you’re absent on test day. If you miss the PSAT, then you’ll have to contact the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) with a written request to take it by March 1.
Here’s what the NMSC website says about scheduling a makeup PSAT:
“The student or a school official must write to NMSC as soon as possible after the PSAT/NMSQT administration to request information about procedures for entry to NMSC competitions by alternate testing. The earlier NMSC receives the written request, the greater the student’s opportunities for meeting alternate entry requirements. To be considered, a request must be postmarked no later than March 1 following the PSAT/NMSQT administration that was missed. NMSC will provide alternate entry materials including an entry form that requires the signature of a school official.”
While you can schedule a retest if you miss the PSAT, you really only need to take this step if you’re aiming for National Merit distinction or scholarships. If you’re not, then you could instead simply take a timed PSAT practice test on your own. While you won’t get the official testing experience, you can still take and score the test, analyze your results, and reflect on your performance to help you prep for the SAT.
For students who are able to take the PSAT on its official test date, how long will they have to wait to get their scores?
If you miss the PSAT, you probably only need to schedule a makeup test if you're aiming for top, National Merit-qualifying scores.
When Will You Get PSAT Scores?
PSAT scores will come out a couple of months after you take the test, sometime in mid-December. You’ll be able to access them online via your College Board account.
School counselors should have access to the scores one day earlier than students. Your school should also distribute paper score reports around the end of the month.
Beside your total scores, what feedback will you see on your PSAT score report?
What Will Your PSAT Score Report Look Like?
Your PSAT score report will tell you how you scored on the entire test, as well as how you scored on each section. Your total scores will fall between 320 and 1520. This scale, by the way, is 80 points lower than the SAT scale to account for the fact that the PSAT is a slightly easier test.
You’ll also get a score between 160 and 760 for Evidence-based Reading and Writing, and a score between 160 and 760 for math. Your test performance will be further broken down with three section scores between 8 and 38, one each for Reading, Writing and Language, and Math.
Finally, you’ll get a Selection Index score between 48 and 228. The National Merit Scholarship Corporation uses this Selection Index to name Commended Students and Semifinalists. Each state has a different Selection Index cutoff to qualify. We estimate that the average state cutoff to qualify as National Merit Semifinalist will be 214.
Whether you’re aiming for National Merit or getting ready for the PSAT and SAT, you should take time to study for the PSAT. Read on for some essential PSAT prep tips.
Your PSAT score report slices through your results to reveal all the layers of your test performance.
How to Prep for the PSAT
No one should go into the PSAT without knowing what to expect. There are lots of available practice materials that will help you learn about the test and get some experience with PSAT questions.
The following seven tips will help guide your prep for the PSAT. We also have in-depth articles that illuminate every aspect of the test, plus give some key test-taking and time management strategies to help you do your best. Your first step in PSAT studying is simply familiarizing yourself with the content, format, and scoring of the test.
1. Familiarize Yourself With the Test
First things first, set aside some time to learn all about the PSAT. Learn about how the test is structured, how much time you have for each section, and when you get breaks.
Figure out what skills are tested in Reading, what grammar rules you need to know for Writing, and what the difference is between the Math No Calculator and Math With Calculator sections (besides, of course, whether or not you can use a calculator).
As you learn, take notes on the skills and concepts you feel confident about and which ones need review. Keep track of the areas where you’ll need to spend the most time studying. You can use these notes to design a study plan that targets your weak areas and fills in any gaps in knowledge.
Your first step in preparing for the PSAT is learning all about the PSAT. In other words, you should make the PSAT your new best friend.
2. Make a Study Schedule
To meet your goals on the PSAT, you need to design a study schedule customized to you. You should think about how much time you have before the PSAT, and how much of that time you can realistically commit to test prep.
Ideally, you can set aside the same time each week so that your PSAT prep becomes part of your routine. Just a few hours of prep a week can add up to dozens or even hundreds of hours if you start early enough.
Take time to design a schedule, write it down, and stick to it. By developing a consistent habit of PSAT prep, you’ll see significant progress over time.
3. Take a Timed Practice Test
When you start studying, you should sit down and take a full PSAT practice test. Find a quiet environment, time yourself, and score your test. By simulating the test day experience, you can get a sense of your current scoring level.
Then you can use this practice test to diagnose your strengths and weaknesses as a test-taker. Take time to figure out your section scores and pinpoint your weaknesses. Where do you see the most room for improvement? By taking a practice test at the beginning, you can figure out where you need to put in the most work to see improvement.
Take timed practice tests to get a sense of the pacing of the PSAT. With enough practice, you'll manage to stay afloat despite the strict time limits.
4. Analyze Your Results
Once you’ve scored your test, you should go back through and circle all of the questions that you got wrong or where unsure about. Look for patterns in questions that tripped you up. Perhaps you need to work on time management in the Reading section. Maybe you need to review geometry concepts and memorize more formulas.
Think deeply about the reasons you got a question wrong. Were you missing some core knowledge, or did you make a careless error because you were rushing?
Memorizing grammar rules won’t help your Writing score if what you really need is better time management strategies. Getting to the root of your issues will help you address them directly and effectively.
5. Review Core Concepts
While strategy is important on the PSAT, you also need to possess certain core knowledge to do well on it. You’ll need to understand specific rules of grammar, certain literary terms, key math formulas, and concepts of algebra and geometry.
Make sure your PSAT study materials break down each section into its component concepts. After reviewing a concept, you should answer relevant practice questions to reinforce your understanding.
If you come across a concept that you haven’t learned yet in school, you might seek help from a peer or teacher or try to learn it on your own with PSAT study materials. Filling in any gaps in knowledge is especially key if you’re aiming for top scores.
Even if the PSAT calls itself a skills-based, rather than content-based test, it still requires that you've memorized some facts and figures.
6. Get Strategic
Unfortunately, even academically excellent students aren’t guaranteed a high score on the PSAT without a solid understanding of test-taking strategy. The PSAT is a fast-paced test that requires deft time management.
By practicing with timed tests, you’ll be able to get more and more efficient and less prone to careless errors. You should also try out specific strategies, like process of elimination or speed-reading passages, to improve your speed while maintaining accuracy.
7. Practice, Practice, Practice
Becoming a good PSAT-taker is a learned skill, just like writing or playing the guitar. You can’t expect to get great scores the first time you take a practice test. Rather, you’ll get better and better the more you practice.
Ideally, you can start several months before your test date and commit one to three hours to PSAT prep each week. As you get closer to the test, you can ramp up the time commitment, if possible. However, you’ll already have accumulated many study hours, so you won’t have to panic and cram at the last minute. By the time the PSAT rolls around, all the skills you’ve developed will kick in and carry you across the finish line of your PSAT goals.
Now that you have a sense of when you’ll take the PSAT and how you can start preparing for it, let’s go over the key points you should remember about this important test.
Just as you can't expect to know how to play the guitar without any practice, you also shouldn't expect to ace the PSAT without some serious prep work.
PSAT Test Dates 2017: Key Points
If you’ll be a junior in 2017, then you’ll be taking the PSAT in the fall. In all likelihood, you’ll take the PSAT on a Wednesday in mid-October. Our projected 2017 PSAT dates are Wednesday, October 18, Wednesday, November 1, and Saturday, October 15.
The PSAT is a unique test, probably unlike other tests you take in school. To achieve your target scores, you should take time to review material and try out test-taking strategies. With enough practice, you might qualify for National Merit distinction and scholarships.
Regardless of whether or not you make this competitive cutoff, you’ll still benefit from prepping for the PSAT. The test is extremely similar to the SAT, so any prep you do now will help you when you take the college admissions test.
Taking the PSAT is a skill that you can learn and improve with practice. The more effort you put in beforehand, the more comfortable and confident you’ll feel when test day rolls around.
Are you aiming for top scores on the PSAT? For any aspiring National Merit Finalists, this guide tells you what it takes to get a perfect score on the PSAT.
What PSAT score do you need to qualify for National Merit? This guide breaks down the predicted state-by-state cutoffs to make Semifinalist status.
If you were named a National Merit Semifinalist, how do you move on to become a Finalist and earn scholarship money? Check out this full guide on becoming a National Merit Finalist to find out.
Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points? We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:
Have friends who also need help with test prep? Share this article!
Rebecca graduated with her Master's in Adolescent Counseling from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She has years of teaching and college counseling experience and is passionate about helping students achieve their goals and improve their well-being. She graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University and scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT.